By Pat Melgares, K-State Research and Extension news service
MANHATTAN, Kan. – In small doses, anxiety might be a good thing, perhaps inspiring a person to act quickly in the face of danger, or think twice about a large expense.
But too much anxiety…not so much.
“The problem is when anxiety becomes debilitating and starts to interfere with our daily lives,” said Rachael Clews, a family and consumer sciences specialist at Kansas State University’s Southwest Research-Extension Center in Garden City.
“When anxiety becomes chronic and debilitating, it can lead to more serious mental health problems that require professional help.”
Clews and Jennifer LaSalle – a family and community wellness agent in K-State Research and Extension’s West Plains District – are the featured speakers during the Living Well Wednesday series on Feb. 22.
Their talk, Declutter Your Mind: Tools to Tame Your Anxiety and Overthinking, will be held online from 12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m. (CST). The session is free, but participants must register in advance to receive a link to the online presentation.
“For most of us, overthinking is a negative thing where our minds conjure up every negative possibility for a situation,” Clews said. In the Feb. 22 presentation, “we’ll talk about how we can interrupt the overthinking and rewrite the script to move from negative to positive thoughts.”
Some of the coping strategies, she adds, include deep breathing, muscle relaxation and silent reflection. “And it may sound funny, but even scheduling an ‘overthinking time’ where you can set aside a specific time of the day or week to just overthink, can be productive,” Clews said.
“This gives validity to one’s feelings, but sets a time limit so that you don’t spiral down an ‘overthinking rabbit hole’ of no return. Once that time is up, make a plan to actually solve the problem you are experiencing.”
Anxiety, like depression, is a mood disorder. Clews said talking about mental health is becoming more common in society.
“If we can take the taboo out of talking about mental health like we would any other health condition, we’d empower so many more to seek the help they need,” she said. “Talking about it – including our own struggles – can go a long way in showing someone else that they are not alone and that there is hope to overcome their anxiety with the right help.”
Living Well Wednesday is an online learning series hosted by K-State Research and Extension family and consumer science agents across the state. A list of upcoming topics, as well as past recorded sessions, is available online.